Skip to content

Press Release

Living Sculpture

February 29, 2004 through April 17, 2004
Reception for the Artist: Thursday, February 29, 7-9 pm

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present new work of life-long diarist and visionary artist Peter Beard. His unique relationship with the world is communicated in this latest body of work titled "Living Sculpture." He puts forth the idea that heroic and beautiful human and animal forms can be living sculpture or Duchampian "ready-mades." Beard states, "If Marcel Duchamp could hang a shovel in NYC during World War I and then, towards the end of his life say to an interviewer that his most important contribution to Twentieth Century art was 'the ready-made tool…' Living Sculpture must fit in there somewhere - 'objects trouver' [found objects]… organic machinery like Anita Eckberg, Iman, Giselle or Ardriana Lima."

"Beard searches for truth or a glimpse of another reality. The pictures themselves [often] become secondary to the process of making them. Beard's subject matter has always been his life before his eyes. As the Mexican writer and poet Octavio Paz said, 'Reality is not what we see, but what we discover.' Peter Beard is on a voyage of discovery…[his] existence floats in an area between life and art. He creates images that leave a dent on the brain." (David Fahey, 50 Years of Portraits, Arena Editions, 1999)

Peter Beard's artistic versatility is a combination of many talents, including photographer, environmentalist, cultural anthropologist, collector, and most of all diarist. His personality exudes a mixture of sophistication and passionate innocence. He is addicted to constant stimulation and expressing his observations. He is not willing to succumb to the numbing effects of bliss. His photographs resonate with the need for our engagement, and our emotional participation. His disjunctive images of the natural world, with collaged pieces of political and cultural history, demand our attention.

The themes in Peter Beard's picture making continues to be influenced and surrounded by his experiences and life in Africa. He states, "When I first went to Kenya in August 1955, I could never have guessed what was going to happen. Kenya's population was roughly five million, with about 100 tribes scattered throughout the endless "wild-deer-ness" - it was authentic, unspoiled, teeming with big game - so enormous it appeared inexhaustible…Everyone agreed it was too big to be destroyed. Now Kenya's population of over 30 million drains the country's limited and diminishing resources at an amazing rate: surrounding, isolating, and relentlessly pressuring the last pockets of wildlife in denatured Africa…The beautiful play period has come to an end. Millions of years of evolutionary processes have been destroyed in the blink of an eye… The Pleistocene is paved over, cannibalism is swallowed up by commercialism, arrows become AK- 47s, colonialism is replaced by the power, the prestige and the corruption of the international aid industry. This is The End Of The Game over and over…What could possibly be next? Density and stress - aid and AIDS, deep blue computers and Nintendo robots, heart disease and cancer, liposuction and rhinoplasty, digital pets and Tamaguchi toys deliver us into the brave new world."

"The coherence of Peter Beard's work is based on [his] obvious relationship with the environment, on logic which allows him to include himself, as an individual, in a chain whose goal is the continuation of life. From this arises his evident and permanent relationship to the sensory - and sensual - aspects of the world, objects and bodies. His passion for feminine beauty, his attention to the texture of the skin…has found it's expression in the ability to treat his paintings by mistreating them and ennobling them with blood, African earth, vegetation carried by the wind onto proofs drying in the open air." (Christian Caujole, Introduction of Photo Poche, Centre National de la Photographie, Paris, Nov. 1996)

Peter Beard has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions. Selected One-man Museum Exhibitions include: "Stress and Density" KunstHausWien (Vienna), Museum of Natural History (Madrid), "Peter Beard, Oltre la Fine del Mondo" Comune di Milano Cultura e Musei (Milan), "Carnets Africans" Centre National de la Photographie (Paris), "Peter Beard Retrospective" Seibu Museum (Tokyo).

His publications include 50 Years of Portraits (Arena Editions), Peter Beard Stress and Density (KunstHausWien), Oltre la fine del Mondo (Rizzoli), The Adventures and MisAdventures of Peter Beard in Africa (Bullfinch Press), The End of the Game (Chronicle Books), Eyelids of Morning (Chronicle Books) and Longing for Darkness (Random House, Inc.)